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Summit State of Mind

By Ashley (Gersuk) Murphy, 10/09/17, 12:45PM EDT

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In our original discussions of the Summit Lacrosse Society, as we pieced together what exactly we were trying to communicate (its parts have since been dissected by our "creative guy" aka Kevin: CLICK HERE), one element was harder to articulate than the others. It's the vibe.

There is a certain vibe that emanates amongst complete strangers in the outdoors. There are the "formal" trail etiquette commandments - i.e. uphill hiker has the right of way, leave no trace, don't feed or disrupt wildlife, stick to the trails, etc. But more relevant here is people's general disposition in the outdoors. Passing hikers say hello to each other; they ask where each other are from; they give each other tips - relevant information (trail conditions, wildlife sightings, water sources, etc.), or pump-ups (you're close - one more big push and it levels out). The range of talent on the mountain is much like the range of talent in a lacrosse tournament, and while outdoor enthusiasts tend to be as subtly competitive as they come, there is this sense of satisfaction found in helping others achieve their goal, alongside the strenuous effort of achieving your own. Beyond leaving no trace yourself, there is a shared responsibility to pick-up and "pack out" any trash left behind, even if it's not yours. You tend to feel really small, compared to the expanse of nature,  reminded that your existence is one tiny fraction of the universe, and that you are part of something much bigger than yourself. You push yourself to the limits, but you (hopefully) have the perspective to know that Mother Nature always wins, and that safety is paramount. The vibe is humble, grateful, friendly, helpful, respectful, fulfilling, competitive, fun, and it creates memories.

Yesterday, as has become as frequent an occurrence as possible since our move to the Rockies a couple of years ago, my husband Chris, best buddy Lindsey, and I embarked on a Sunday adventure --- the Summit of our first "14'er" (Colorado has 58 peaks above 14,000 ft.). We summited Quandary Peak, which required 3,800 feet of elevation gain in 3.1 miles, to reach the Summit at 14,265 ft. It was a blast --- we begin by headlamp at 5:45 AM (3:05 AM weekend alarms aren't pleasant, but can be worth it), saw the sun start to rise over the mountains around 6:15, reached the top sometime before 10, and were back in Breckenridge for a large burger and fries by Noon. As it always is, the aforementioned "Summit Vibe" was alive and well.

This vibe is very similar to the vibe that our Founder, George Leveille, imparted on the lacrosse community when he established the Lake Placid Summit Classic in 1990. Like Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins (see below), George built Lake Placid Lacrosse out of "necessity" - he wanted to play the game he loved, in the mountains with his buddies...so he created the opportunity! We are all the beneficiaries of this vision. As an aside, George too is an impressive and enthusiastic mountaineer, and has climbed nearly all of the Adirondack's 46 peaks above 4,000 ft. (a "46'er" is the eastern version of a 14'er, just a slightly different starting elevation!).

We believe that this vibe has been fostered by the Lake Placid Summit Classic over 28+ years, and by creating the Summit Lacrosse Society, we aim to spread this vibe across all of our SLV events, the lacrosse community, and ideally, society as a whole. Its concept is simple and universal: Competition, Respect, Camaraderie. We could use a little more of each of those tenants in today's world, don't you think?

Because this is a blog, I will digress ----

Upon return from our Summit, we re-watched the inspiring (understatement) documentary, 180 Degrees South: Conquerors of the Useless (trailer: click here), which is photographer/adventurer Jeff Johnson's, reenactment of his heroes' - Yvod Chouinard (founder of Patagonia) and Doug Tompkins (founder of North Face) - 1968 trip to Patagonia, which pivotally impacted their life's work and play. Teammate and friend, Kevin Leveille (aka SLV's creative guy) suggested this movie to me years ago; if you haven't seen it, it is tremendous.

For many, this documentary may invoke a temporary (or permanent) feeling of "let's quit our jobs and voyage to Patagonia, now...". While I can certainly understand this reaction, and part of me feels changed every time I watch it, each time it dawns on me that I am doing what I love, and I am eternally grateful that my work with SLV combines profession and passion.

Quandary Peak: 14,265 ft.